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||Hungarian Corps Troops:
Intelligence Briefing For Hungarian Corps Troops On The Eastern Front 1942 To 1943
with Wayne Turner
With the onset of winter the 1st Field Armoured division was
withdrawn to the front reserve covering both the Hungarian Second Army
and the Italian Eighth Army and immediate reserve forces were organised
from Divisional and Corps troops.
Both the Huszár units of the light divisions and corps and the
Bicycle Infantry of the Corps were taken out of the immediate front line
and placed behind them as a local reserve in case of breakthroughs and
to counter penetrating raids.
When combined together a Hungarian corps had two battalions (6
companies) of Huszár cavalry and a further two companies of Bicycle
To support these troops were small platoons of machine-guns, mortars
and guns. In addition they had access to support from corps artillery
and anti-aircraft batteries.
|Winter 1942 to 1943
By mid September 1942 the Second Hungarian Army had settled into defensive positions along the Don River. Unfortunately a general lack defensive supplies like mines and barbed wire and a shortage of labour meant only the defensive areas immediately around the bridgeheads could be adequately fortified. The Don River itself was not the formidable obstacle it would seem, being shallow and easily wadeable in many places.
Supply problems plagued the Second Army, with both home and the Germans reluctant to give too much to the Hungarian troops in the front line. The Germans seeing their allies as a secondary priority and the Hungarian Government keen to withhold equipment and supplies to build up the Home Defence Army.
The weather also played a role, armoured troops complained that their 38(t) tanks needed time to warm-up in cold weather, and that if stationed to close the front lines any break-through couldn’t be stopped if the tanks weren’t up and running in time.
|Several German units were moved into the area to support the Hungarians:
559. Panzerjager Abteilung (supporting above).
429. Infantrieregiment (between III and IV Corps facing Uryv).
After the neighbouring Romanian and Italian armies were crushed the
Germans sent further reinforcements the Second Army sector, these
190. Sturmgeschutz Abteilung.
|These units along with 168. Infantriedivision
(168. ID) and the Hungarian 1st Armoured Field Division were organised
into Corps Cramer as the reserve for the sector.
The Soviet Attack
On 3 January 1943 the Soviets launched several probing attacks
against the Second Hungarian and Eighth Italian Armies, these attacks
were successfully fended off. The storm broke over the Second Hungarian Army on 12 January.
Soviet Army launched from the Uryv bridgehead into the 7th Light
Division (7th LD) and the German 429. Infantrieregiment. The Germans and
the 35th Infantry Regiment (7th LD) were able to hold their positions,
but the 4th Infantry Regiment (7th LD) was overrun.
On this first day the Soviets were able to drive a
6km wide gap between the III and IV Corps, penetrating up to 3km. 13
January saw Soviet attacks concentrate on the 20th Light to the north of
Uryv. The 20th Light were supported by the remains of the 7th Light and
German 429. IR. At dawn both corners of the Uryv bulge were still held.
A counter-attack was launched by the four battalions of the III Corps
reserves supported by the German 700. Herespanzerverband. By the end of
the day the German Panzer force had just four Panzer 38(t)s remaining.
The Hungarian troops engaged had been smashed by continuous and
un-relenting Soviet attacks.
||The commander of the German 429 IR wrote in his report: ‘The Hungarian
troops had fought very well, and that the cause for the failure of the
attempt lay with the helplessness of the Hungarian units against enemy
armour and the freezing weather.’ The Gap in the Hungarian lines had
widened to 10km wide and 12km deep!
|On January 14 the Soviet
offensive got into full swing and thrusts were made from Stutye and
Kantemirovka. The Soviet 18th Rifle Corps smashed through the 12th LD
and moved towards Ostrogosk. The 3rd Tank army attacked the XXIV
Panzerkorps (26th Tank Corps) encountering resistance until they
committed two tank corps against them, though progress was still slow.
release of the German 168. ID from reserves on January 15 allowed the
slowing in the Soviet advance on the southern flank, but to the north a
continuous flow of Soviet troops poured through the gap. The remnants of
the Hungarian III Corps now faced south, their western flank exposed.
Other Divisions along the front were all under pressure. The 7th and
12th LD had been destroyed; the Second Hungarian Army sector was quickly running out of men.
January 16 it was the 13th LD at Karotyak turn to come under pressure
from the Soviet 40th Army. After heavy fighting they withdrew on
Ostrogosk where they and the 10th LD and German 168. ID became
surrounded. The 10th LD lost its artillery to the Soviet 18th Rifle
Corps when it couldn’t be moved because of lack of horses.
Cramer launched a counter-attack. It stalled theb advance of the Soviet
18th Rifle Corps, but it was called off when the 1st Armoured Field
Division’s flanks were exposed. The Soviets also began to get behind the
positions of the VII Corps, the Second Hungarian Army ordered retreat
before their position became too exposed.
Resistance continued in the north by the III Corps, with German
reinforcement, on 17 January. The Soviet target was Alexeyevka and
Ilovskoye, Ilovskoya was the gateway to the Hungarian retreat. Lead
elements of the Soviets 40th Army reached the airfield at Ilovskoya
around noon, but fierce resistance from the Hungarian Airforce ground
crew forced them to withdraw.
|The IV Corps was ordered to retreat on Ostrogosk. By evening all
communication from the General Jány’s Second Hungarian Army HQ were cut,
and he no longer had contact with any of his units.
On 18 January Hitler declared Ostrogosk a fortress to be defended to the
last man, trapped inside were the remainder of the 10th and 13th LD and
German 168. ID and corps troops from the III and IV Corps.
VII Corps encountered the left wing of the Soviet 18th Rifle Corps while
withdrawing and when Soviets tanks appeared to the south their retreat
rapidly turned into a rout. The Soviets occupied Alexeyevka, but a
counterattack by the 1st Armoured Field Division pushed the Soviets out.
The Hungarian armour then joined the defence of Ilovskoye to the north.
On 19 and 20 January the defence of Alexeyevka, Ilovskoye and Ostrogosk
continued, and on 20 January the Soviet 40th Tank Army turned its
attention to the German 2. Armee to the north, leaving the 18th Rifle
Corps and 3rd Tanks Army to finish off the Hungarian Second Army.
January 21 contact was re-established with Ostrogosk and the last
German and Hungarian troops were withdrawn to Novyi Oskol, meanwhile the
1st Armoured Field Division tenaciously held of continued attempts to
take Alexeyevka. The remaining Hungarian troops in the
Ostrogosk-Alexeyevka area were grouped together under Corps Cramer, and
on 22 January they started withdrawing towards Budyenny and on to Novyi
On 22 January the Hungarian Second Army ceased functioning as a command
unit and was moved to the rear to reorganise the Hungarians. Those
still capable of fighting remained with Corps Cramer, under German
|On 25 January, Corps Cramer was reassigned the German 2.
at this time there was still 12,000 Hungarians fighting. As the front
stabilised Hungarian units were sent to the rear where they began
their reorganisation. The Hungarians wouldn’t see any serious fighting
again until 1944.
Last Updated On Thursday, February 27, 2014 by Blake at Battlefront